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The Long Ear

Like football (soccer) and coffee, the guitar is inextricably linked with Brazil in the collective imagination. Yet despite it's significance to the country's musical identity, the major class divide in the colonial period saw the guitar dismissed as an instrument of the common, uneducated populace, in contrast to the piano, which represented the aspirations of the wealthier middle classes. Things changed in the early 20th century, however. In 1916 a performance by Italian-Brazilian guitarist Canhoto won over both media and Brazilian elite, heralding the start of a new era for the guitar, and various Italian luthiers moved to the New World, taking advantage of the great market opportunities Brazil offered to turn their craft production into a more industrial enterprise. The guitar's status as a national symbol rests on an identity-building process combining various elements, and that mix of cultural influences can be seen in the compositions of Radame's Gnattali (1906-1988). He used elements of popular music in his supposedly high-brow compositions, blurring the boundary between the two styles. Gnattali fought relentlessly to break down the barriers between classical and popular music, becoming the most important - and most prolific - Brazilian composer in the guitar repertoire of the 1950s. His music has it's own unique sound, featuring magnificent writing for the instrument, unexpected harmonic solutions and boundless inspiration. The Brazilian composer, pianist and conductor Francisco Mignone (1897-1986) - another musician of Italian heritage - was considered a 'nationalist' by scholars and 'high-brow' by those from the world of popular music. His vast oeuvre for guitar includes two large cycles - the Estudos (recorded here) and the Valsas - which showcase exceptional technical flair and impressive stylistic versatility, delving into everything from popular music to serialism.
Like football (soccer) and coffee, the guitar is inextricably linked with Brazil in the collective imagination. Yet despite it's significance to the country's musical identity, the major class divide in the colonial period saw the guitar dismissed as an instrument of the common, uneducated populace, in contrast to the piano, which represented the aspirations of the wealthier middle classes. Things changed in the early 20th century, however. In 1916 a performance by Italian-Brazilian guitarist Canhoto won over both media and Brazilian elite, heralding the start of a new era for the guitar, and various Italian luthiers moved to the New World, taking advantage of the great market opportunities Brazil offered to turn their craft production into a more industrial enterprise. The guitar's status as a national symbol rests on an identity-building process combining various elements, and that mix of cultural influences can be seen in the compositions of Radame's Gnattali (1906-1988). He used elements of popular music in his supposedly high-brow compositions, blurring the boundary between the two styles. Gnattali fought relentlessly to break down the barriers between classical and popular music, becoming the most important - and most prolific - Brazilian composer in the guitar repertoire of the 1950s. His music has it's own unique sound, featuring magnificent writing for the instrument, unexpected harmonic solutions and boundless inspiration. The Brazilian composer, pianist and conductor Francisco Mignone (1897-1986) - another musician of Italian heritage - was considered a 'nationalist' by scholars and 'high-brow' by those from the world of popular music. His vast oeuvre for guitar includes two large cycles - the Estudos (recorded here) and the Valsas - which showcase exceptional technical flair and impressive stylistic versatility, delving into everything from popular music to serialism.
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Like football (soccer) and coffee, the guitar is inextricably linked with Brazil in the collective imagination. Yet despite it's significance to the country's musical identity, the major class divide in the colonial period saw the guitar dismissed as an instrument of the common, uneducated populace, in contrast to the piano, which represented the aspirations of the wealthier middle classes. Things changed in the early 20th century, however. In 1916 a performance by Italian-Brazilian guitarist Canhoto won over both media and Brazilian elite, heralding the start of a new era for the guitar, and various Italian luthiers moved to the New World, taking advantage of the great market opportunities Brazil offered to turn their craft production into a more industrial enterprise. The guitar's status as a national symbol rests on an identity-building process combining various elements, and that mix of cultural influences can be seen in the compositions of Radame's Gnattali (1906-1988). He used elements of popular music in his supposedly high-brow compositions, blurring the boundary between the two styles. Gnattali fought relentlessly to break down the barriers between classical and popular music, becoming the most important - and most prolific - Brazilian composer in the guitar repertoire of the 1950s. His music has it's own unique sound, featuring magnificent writing for the instrument, unexpected harmonic solutions and boundless inspiration. The Brazilian composer, pianist and conductor Francisco Mignone (1897-1986) - another musician of Italian heritage - was considered a 'nationalist' by scholars and 'high-brow' by those from the world of popular music. His vast oeuvre for guitar includes two large cycles - the Estudos (recorded here) and the Valsas - which showcase exceptional technical flair and impressive stylistic versatility, delving into everything from popular music to serialism.
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